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June 5, 2022

Ime Udoka

Boston Celtics

Game 2: Pregame

Q. A lot of talk after Game 1 of how well you guys shot, is that sustainable, things like that, and I remember earlier in the year when you guys weren't shooting as well you were looking at your shot quality and saying, we expect to shoot better than this. How do you come out of a game like that assessing how you shot, whether or not you're hitting a ton of shots or missing a ton of open shots?

IME UDOKA: I think it's more about making the right play and the right read. We took 41 but 38 were open to wide open. So we are drawing, kicking, making the correct pass. Only took three contested threes and that's the shot quality you talk about and the right guys are taking the shots and passing up the good ones for great ones. We pumped faked, drove the close-out and got easier shots for everybody else and layups at the basket.

What I talked about earlier is guys were shooting it poorly to start the season but we felt they would get back to their career numbers, averages and we've done that.

Q. I want to ask you about the hiring of Damon Stoudamire, I know you guys go back. How did that come about and what has he meant to your coaching staff this season?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, I think in general, the staff has a heavy Portland influence. Guys I group with, are younger than me and we all kind of stuck together and followed each other's careers basketball-wise. Damon was one of the guys, other than A.C. Green and Terrell Brandon, in my generation we all looked up to. I've known him since I was in middle school. And so our relationship goes back.

We all knew each other but we all have kind of gone our own paths. Aaron Miles being here, Ben Sullivan with Milwaukee and then Damon in college and Memphis in the pros. Something we all discussed possibly, if ever the opportunity to work with people you're familiar with. Me getting hired and going straight to the Olympics, I kind of expedited the process of getting to know the staff by having relationships with a lot of those guys.

I understand what he's about. Tasked with getting with Marcus and showing him the ropes of being a point guard, a guy who has been there and done that, and I think that was a valuable asset to my hires was relationship building and relatability and I think he's a big part of that.

Q. During the playoffs and after big wins you've been asked this ad nauseam, but not fumbling the bag after a game, is that something you even bring up to the team about handling prosperity and making sure you keep that foot on the gas?

IME UDOKA: Yeah, I mean, we've talked about it because at times this postseason, we have played desperate after losses and we want to have the same mentality after a win, keep the same edge. So we look at things we could have done a lot better in that game. Played solid overall and they went on a run, we went on a run but there were things we could have done to be in a better position especially in that third quarter.

For us, it's game by game. We got the first one. Now it's time to be greedy and go for two.

Q. What does it mean to you to wear that shirt [End Gun Violence] and also did you see Gregg Popovich deliver a speech in Texas supporting the Uvalde victims?

IME UDOKA: No, I did not see Pop's speech but I know how passionate he is about a lot of these issues. For me, it's something I spoke about after the Miami game. We play a game that if you win, you're elated and you feel great about it; you lose, you're devastated for the moment but it's not life and death, you still go on. The awareness is about things that continue to happen in our communities. They are devastated and their families are devastated and we kind of go on with our normal life and business.

Just continue to keep those thoughts in mind and those people are struggling. It continues to happen. And awareness and changes need to be made and we are all on the same page as far as that.

Q. I know you said Rob is just going to be day-to-day throughout this series. Do you get a sense, is he showing improvement and is it something you anticipate as you go on that you might ramp up playing time more or will it be this range he's been in?

IME UDOKA: A little bit of both. I think the improvement with the days off, the three days after Miami and the two days between games has been beneficial. We spoke about playing every other day for 17 days straight, so this break has been beneficial for him. Part of it is keeping him in that 20 to 25-minute range. We kept him pretty much around 20. I think that's beneficial. So if possible, we'd like to keep him there but if the game dictates, we can obviously play him more and deal with the residual effect later.

But I think the low minutes, days off, two days in between has got him feeling better and you can see a little more pop in his step the last game.

Q. Masai [Ujiri] came out with a letter talking about how disappointed he is with what's going on in Nigeria and potential for missing international competition for the next couple years, which I assume means Paris or could mean Paris. Mike [Brown] has talked about how frustrating it is for him after what he did with the guys last summer. How much are you bothered by what looks like a very real chance that there might not be Nigerian teams in Paris in a couple years?

IME UDOKA: I didn't see Masai's today, as well Pop's. I don't really look at anything on game day, I'm locked in there, but I know about it, I was part of the federation and team as a player and was asked to do it as a coach before.

A lot of the same stuff I dealt with as a player, which is disappointing. Growth of the sport in general in Nigeria at the town level, whether it's abroad or in Nigeria, because it's vast, you have the players and the -- not as much as of the aspect of coaching that you need over there. I think it starts from there. A lot of things you deal with, I try to look at the good that I had at the time but it was a lot of un-organization, last-minute planning. So some of these things aren't surprising. I talk to the younger guys who have played in the NBA recently with the Nigerian team and it sounds like a lot of the same things I went through as a player there. Not a lot has changed and it is disappointing. Looks like a little bit of restructuring from the top would help.

Q. You've talked so much about how this team has grown since January to turn around everything else but have you seen any growth and maturity through the process of the playoffs with so many guys having gone through this the fourth and fifth time, but do you see any growth in this small sample size?

IME UDOKA: I would say overall, we are young and I talked about the lack of experience not being a big factor for us because we are battle tested in previous years, especially this year, two elimination games against Milwaukee and then the Miami situation.

So we've been tested well in the playoffs. I think we respond well, and whether our backs are against the wall or coming out, we've played extremely well on the road. So all those things are signs of growth. Honestly, we have a "don't care" mentality about it: whatever happens, happens. Whatever the situation is, we are going to try to play the same, and whether we are up one or down one, or up one with a chance to go up two, I think the same mentality that we keep shows growth and progress overall with our team.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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